What Are PFAS, and Why Should you Care?

Ashley Sheffer
June 22, 2020

Earlier this week the FDA released the results from testing containments in meat and fish. The results are not so great, showing that PFAS have nearly doubled the advisory level. And apparently the results from chocolate cake were even worse reaching levels more than 250 times the federal guidelines!  

What are PFAS?

PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of at least 4,700 synthetic chemicals that have been in commercial production since the 1940s to make surfaces resist stains, water and grease. Exposure to high levels of PFAS has been linked to cancers, liver problems, low birth weight, fertility problems and many other issues .

PFAS can be found in your non-stick cookware, food packaging, floors, furniture, pizza boxes and firefighting foam. Because they are  so prolific, PFAS is in most our blood, and unfortunately in the water many are drinking. Nearly 16 million Americans consume this water everyday.


These kind of chemicals truly define the meaning of a “toxin”. They take thousands of years to degrade, and can often accumulate within our bodies. This is particularly concerning when discussing the body’s detoxification pathways, and the recent increase in MTHFR a genetic mutation that inhibits the ability for the  body’s detox pathways to properly filter and breakdown chemicals. Nearly 40% of Americans have this genetic mutation to some capacity. All Individuals on the autism spectrum also have this mutation to some degree. Research is now confirming MTHFR as a risk factor for Autism.

What Does This Mean?

To be honest there is still a lot more research to be done, but what we do know is that these chemicals inhibit our bodies metabolic processes, and in worse cases cause serious illness and diseases when the body is not able to rid these chemicals through it’s glandular system. These chemicals get into our body’s bloodstream, and for pregnant women spreads into their unborn fetus when developing, causing risk of developmental issues. They can cause serious immune system disruption, resistance to vaccines, thyroid disease, impaired fertility and high cholesterol.

Show Me the Research

A study funded by DuPont as part of a legal settlement with residents living near one of its Teflon facilities found that PFOA was probably linked to six disease outcomes of kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Numerous studies on PFOS and PFOA on both humans and animals have shown a wide range of possible health effects, including decreased fertility among women, decreased sperm count and penis size, lowered birth weight, cancer and – among animals studied – death.

How Do I Reduce My Exposure to PFAS?

  • Don’t drink contaminated water, eat food packaged in certain materials, or use products embedded with PFAS.
  • No more non-stick cookware, Gore-Tex fabric and clothing made with pre-2000 Scotchguard, and personal care products containing PTFE or flouro ingredients. When in doubt, ask manufacturers if their products contain PFAS since they may not be labeled.
  • Ask your local health department if your water is contaminated above EPA-specified levels, and stop using it if so.
  • Don’t eat contaminated catches.

Do The Best You Can

We can’t protect ourselves from everything, but we can educate ourselves on what to look out for , and how to avoid them as best as we can. The change starts with the changes you make within your own home, and for the ones that you love.

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